Railroad demise opens up real estate land grab

Does unused right of way revert to adjoining owner?

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John Barclay owns land adjoining an unused railroad right of way. The railroad has removed its tracks. Barclay seeks title by reversion to the adjacent land previously used by the railroad. By 1990, the nation's railway system had shrunk from its peak of 272,00 miles of track in 1920 to about 141,000 miles, and railroads continue abandoning track each year. In response, Congress enacted the National Trail Systems Act, which allows the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to issue Notices of Interim Trail Use or Abandonment (NITU) while a railroad negotiates with a potential recreational trail operator for an abandoned railroad line. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. Barclay filed this lawsuit under the Trails Act for taking land that he claims should revert to him after it was abandoned by the railroad. But the federal government replied the STB issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use (NITU) in 1995; Barclay's lawsuit was filed in 2004, well beyond the six-year statute of limitations for ...